TV Q&A: 'Upstairs, Downstairs' done in by 'Downton Abbey'

  • Article by: RICH HELDENFELS , Akron Beacon Journal
  • Updated: November 10, 2013 - 2:00 PM
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The 2010 revival of “Upstairs Downstairs” picked up in the 1930s, the same era where the first series left off. It was canceled after two seasons.

Q: I love Masterpiece’s “Upstairs, Downstairs.” Will it be back for a third season?

A: Public television had a notable hit in the ’70s with the British drama “Upstairs, Downstairs,” about the residents and staff of a home in England. Its five seasons followed the characters from 1903 to 1930.

In 2010, the series was revived, with the story starting in 1936 and with Rose (Jean Marsh) returning from the original series. (Marsh created “Upstairs, Downstairs” with Eileen Atkins, who also appeared in the new series.) While there was a lot of affection for the old show, the new one was overshadowed by the similarly themed “Downton Abbey” and was canceled after two seasons.

No luck yet for ‘Gabriel’s Fire’

Q: I’ve been trying to find a place to get a TV series for an old friend with no luck. The show, “Gabriel’s Fire,” ran on ABC. The main character, Gabriel Bird (James Earl Jones), is a convict who goes to the civilian world after 20 years of prison. Where can I find this show?

A: The series had a rocky history. Premiering in 1990, it starred Jones as a former police officer and ex-convict who worked as a private investigator for the lawyer who helped get him out of prison. When that didn’t work, as “The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows” notes, the show was revamped, renamed “Pros & Cons” and joined by Richard Crenna. That didn’t work either, and the show had its last new telecast in January 1992.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see it available from several authorized DVD vendors or streaming-video operations. I don’t recommend unauthorized ones.

‘Life’ unable to make an impact

Q: Every time my family and I watch Seasons 1 and 2 of “Life,” we wonder why it was canceled. Any hope of its being brought back?

A: While some shows come back from cancellation, I wouldn’t wait for more of the NBC drama, which aired from 2007 to 2009. Its cast — including star Damian Lewis, seen more recently on “Homeland” — has moved on to other projects. While the show had passionate admirers, the ratings weren’t big.

Cowsills bio sings a happy tune

Q: I heard a while back that a biography on the musical group the Cowsills was in the works. I haven’t heard anything about it recently. What is that movie’s status?

A: “Family Band: The Cowsills Story,” a documentary about the group known for recordings of “Indian Lake,” “Hair” and “The Rain, The Park and Other Things,” has been released and has aired on Showtime. It also has been released on DVD.

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